Natural Remedies for Depression

Natural remedies for depression
proved to be as effective as depression medications for mild to moderate depression.

Natural remedies for depression (herbal and nutritional supplements for depression, natural antidepressants) have recently been attracting increasing number of patients because of the numerous side effects of pharmaceutical depression drugs commonly used to treat depression. Taking natural remedies in conjunction with a healthy diet, lifestyle changes and stress management techniques can provide a lasting relief and beneficial effects.

Holistic approach considers the mind, body and spirit equally in treating depression. Some of the natural therapies used for depression treatment are herbal medicine, yoga, meditation, nutrition, exercise, homeopathy, acupuncture and aromatherapy. Natural depression treatment can help the great majority of people with mild and moderate depression as well with anxiety and stress. A treatment should fit the individual’s needs.

Herbs for depression, the same as depression medications, act by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Some of the herbs also balance certain hormone levels. Scientific research shows that natural antidepressants have good results in treating mild and moderate depression without severe side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

Natural antidepressant treatment should be started only after consultations with a doctor. Particularly, natural antidepressants should never be taken without a doctor’s approval if a person already takes depression medications.

Natural antidepressants that are the most common are:


St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a perennial herb with the golden-yellow flowers that blooms from June through August. It is native to Europe and grown in the United States and throughout much of the world. Fresh flowers and leaves are medicinal parts of this very popular herb with antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties.

St. John’s wort has for centuries been one of the most commonly used natural remedies for depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. It is clinically used and available by prescription in Germany and elsewhere in Europe for treatment of mild to moderate forms of depression. St. John’s wort is also one of the most popular and used natural antidepressants in the United States and Canada.

St. John’s wort has two main active components:  Hyperforin and hypericin. They work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine along with activation of gamma-aminobutyrate and glutamate receptors. High-quality brands are standardized for content of hyperforin and hypericin.

St. John’s wort typically has mild side effects if any. The most common is a temporary hypersensitivity to sunlight, but only with very high dosages. St. John’s wort should not be used together with prescription medications for depression and by pregnant and breastfeeding women.

St. John’s wort standardized extract general dosage is 900 mg daily most often divided into two doses. It usually takes a minimum of two to four weeks to see an improvement in depression treatment with St. John’s wort.

St. John’s wort has been, according to numerous scientific studies, effective and safe in treating mild to moderate depression. St. John’s wort is effective just as well as SSRIs and low-dose tricyclic antidepressants but with fewer side effects. These are some of the studies:

1. St. John's Wort for Depression
American Family Physician , April 2005
Wail Malaty, M.D.
"SSRIs are the most widely used antidepressants in the United States. Barriers to their use include cost, side effects, and the reluctance of some patients to use "drugs to treat depression. The evidence clearly shows that St. John's wort is an effective and well-tolerated option for short-term relief of mild to moderate depression. It is inexpensive and may be more acceptable to patients who prefer "natural therapy." [...]
2. St. John's Wort
American Family Physician , December 2005
Silvana Lawvere, Ph.D., and Martin C. Mahoney, M.d., PH.D.
"St. John's wort has been found to be superior to placebo and equivalent to standard antidepressants for the treatment of mild to moderate depression." [...]

There is no consistent evidence of clinical effectiveness of St. John’s wort among patients diagnosed with major or severe depression.



5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is naturally derived from the seeds of the West African plant called Griffonia Simplicifolia.

5-HTP is an amino acid that is an intermediate in tryptophan metabolism and the direct precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that cannot be synthesized by the body and has to be taken from food. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that affects mood, behavior, appetite, sleep and impulse control. 5-HTP increases the serotonin levels in the brain providing depression relief naturally. It also calms anxiety, relieves insomnia, helps control appetite and carbohydrate craving.

5-HTP's potential side effects are mild gastrointestinal disturbances. 5-HTP should not be taken with other antidepressant drugs, weight-control products and by pregnant women. The effective dose is 50-100 mg one to three times per day.

5-HTP is clinically used with success for more than 30 years. Many clinical research trials have found that 5-HTP is equally or slightly more effective than antidepressant drugs but with much less side effects.

1. 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor
Alternative Medicine Review: a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic, August 1998
Birdsall TC.
"Therapeutic administration of 5-HTP has been shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of conditions, including depression, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, chronic headaches, and insomnia." [...]
2. Management of depression with serotonin precursors
Biological Psychiatry, March 1981
van Praag HM.
"There are strong indications that 5-HTP is of therapeutic value [...]"



SAM-e is discovered in Italy more than fifty years ago and it is used as an antidepressant in many countries in the world.

SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine or Adomet) is an amino acid that is made from the essential amino acid methionine and ATP. It is present in every living cell. Supplementing with SAM-e increases levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and phosphatidylserine and has mood lifting effects.

SAM-e is well studied and proved to be effective for mild to moderate depression, liver health, joint health, detoxification and regeneration. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and alleviates pain associated with fibromyalgia. SAM-e is also proved to be equally or even more effective than prescription antidepressant drugs with few mild side effects and it is not addictive.

1. Oral S-adenosylmethionine in depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
The American Journal of Psychiatry, May 1990,
Kagan BL, Sultzer DL, Rosenlicht N, Gerner RH
"The results suggest that oral S-adenosylmethionine is a safe, effective antidepressant with few side effects and a rapid onset of action." [...]
2. S-adenosylmethionine blood levels in major depression: changes with drug treatment
Acta neurologica Scandinavica. Supplementum, 1994
Bell KM, Potkin SG, Carreon D, Plon L
"The significant correlation between plasma SAMe levels and the degree of clinical improvement in depressed patients regardless of the type of treatment suggests that SAMe may play an important role in regulating mood." [...]

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